Report: All out for Josh Cunningham

Four-star small forward Josh Cunningham should prepare to face an all-out effort from the NU coaching staff after Vic Law's commitment. Find out why in this PW Insider update.

When Vic Law committed to Northwestern last Thursday, the new-look program found its wingman priority. The Wildcats only need one athletic small forward, making any further efforts excessive and unnecessary for a team hoping to set its future in place. That involves shooting guards, power forwards and one floor general, with anything else a noticeable bonus.

This creates one weird twist in plans. Though the program–per sources–has no inclination to watch other class of 2014 small forwards during the July evaluation period, there is one name cemented in their plans. PurpleWildcats.com spoke with Josh Cunnigham several times throughout the spring, and ironically, after signing someone else at the same position, NU plans to intensify its pursuit of the four-star small forward of local Morgan Park HS.

How has this happened? For one, Vic Law loves the idea of playing alongside Cunningham—according to multiple accounts. The two play diverse styles of basketball, with one the "Luol Deng-lite" (per Chicago hoops analyst Jeremy Woo) and the other a high-upside high-riser of Mac Irvin Fire. The two could undoubtedly co-exist on the same team, and would enter the starting rotation immediately upon arriving on campus.

Second, it makes little sense–and provides the wrong impression–for NU to pursue any other wing players. The team will glance at some talented players, including four-star talent Joe Burton, but refuses to let Law feel like anything other than the focal point. He could be the jewel of this class, and that would be okay. Law fits future plans to perfection, and they'll fill the rest of this class out around him.

The Wildcats pursued Josh Cunnigham beginning in the Carmody era, when he visited NU for a game this season. Tavaras Hardy picked up his recruitment after Carmody's dismissal, and the torch was passed to this ambitious staff hoping to lock up two top-tier instate talents within year one of Chris Collins taking the job.

That leaves Cunningham, for now, near the top of this recruiting board. It appears that the staff may have somewhat cooled its pursuit of four-star power forward Reid Travis–though that has yet to be confirmed–and Cunningham joins the very top of the list. The rest is compromised, with Tyler Ulis and Marcus Bartley among the top looks. NU will likely accept only one point guard commitment for 2014, which makes perfect sense, but Cunningham is the target sans obstacle for this group. They'd love it.

In essence, Cunningham becomes the ideal priority. NU, with this understandable confidence following Law's commitment, can afford to risk trying for an exciting target. And, really, the moment Law and Cunningham started playing in Welsh-Ryan Arena, the seats would be just about full. This is the impact that could arrive with two high-impact wings.

So, on this recruiting list loaded with talented players, look no further than Cunningham for the greatest hopes. Two four-star players in year one? Two players who would reinvigorate the fan base? NU has the opportunity to land both, and from every account, they're dead set on doing just that.


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